China is an ancient civilization with a long history and splendid culture. For thousands of years, Chinese people of all ethnic groups created hundreds of diversified forms of performing arts, each of which has a lot of genres and styles that make a glorious big Art Treasure-house.
The best in Chinese performing arts includes Chinese opera, puppet show, shadow play, acrobatic performance, Chinese folk music, Quyi, as well as dance and drama of minority nationalities. All these colorful forms of performing arts are the inexhaustible source of Chinese art exchange with foreign countries. As early as two thousand years ago, China had cultural exchanges with foreign countries.
Chinese opera is mainly composed of three different art forms: folk song and dance, talking and singing, and burlesque. Originated from the primitive song and dance, it is a comprehensive style of stage art with a long history. Until Song and Jin Dynasties, a complete opera art was formed. There are many kinds of operas in China, including Peking Opera, Ping Opera, Shaoxing Opera, Yu Opera, Huangmei Opera, Sichuan opera and so on. Peking Opera is the most famous one, known as the “national opera”.
The puppet show is a drama of actors manipulating puppets to tell stories behind the scenes. The puppet shows of modern Fujian, Guangdong, and Hunan, Shanxi and Beijing are flexible, easy to operate and have a long reputation. The general view is that it originated from Han Dynasty and was prosperous in Tang Dynasty. In the Three Kingdoms, there were puppets playing acrobatics, while puppets telling stories in Sui Dynasty. According to the puppet shape and the manipulation technology, there are hand puppet, rod-puppet, marionettes on strings or wires and so on.
Shadow play is an ancient Chinese folk art. Shadow play, also known as shadow puppetry, is a folk drama with cut-out figures made of animal skins or cardboard to tell stories. During the performance, the artists, behind the translucent screen or scrim, manipulated the puppets and told the story with local popular tunes, accompanied by percussion instruments and string music. It has a strong local flavor. The shadow play began in the Western Han dynasty and flourished in Qing Dynasty. It spread to western Asia and Europe during the Yuan dynasty.
Acrobatics refers to the skills of jujitsu (soft work), trick-cycling, ventriloquism, Pagoda of bowls, wirewalking , juggling, lion dance and so on. It involves movements that are a combination of difficult feats of balance, agility and coordination. Acrobatics has a history of more than 2,000 years in China. Chinese acrobats have become ambassadors of Chinese culture and ambassadors of peace and friendship since their first performance abroad. For nearly half a century, Chinese acrobats have traveled the world, leaving their artistic presence in more than 100 countries on five continents.
Chinese Folk Music
The folk music occupies an important position among the traditional music, which is played by Chinese traditional instruments in solo and ensemble forms. It have been passed down through word of mouth during the long history of Chinese people. Whatever the musical instrument, music score or performing styles, it has strong national and regional features, combined with local folk customs and local folk activities. It includes folk song, singing and dancing music, talking and singing music, opera music, instrumental music and so on.
Quyi is a general name for several hundred of speaking and singing art forms. It refers to such traditional art forms such as ballad singing, Pingshu, comic dialogues, clapper talks and xiangsheng. As the most national-featured performing arts in China, Quyi plays an important role in the whole history of literature and art development. From October 1976 to the end of the 20th century, Quyi began to develop in an all-round way. It takes speaking and singing as their major means of artistic expression. In addition, Quyi actors do not dress up as a character, but in the way of “one actor, several characters” (a Quyi actor can imitate a variety of characters), show various characters and stories.
China is one of the cradles of magic. In ancient China, magic is called Huanshu(illusion). Magic is also one of the earliest fields in China’s foreign cultural exchange activities. In 500 BC, the ancestors had the records of connecting rings. According to Shihchi records, in 108 B.C., king Anxi sent his people to China play magic. The great communication between Chinese and foreign magic appeared in the early Qing dynasty. Magicians in China absorb different forms, contents and skills of foreign magic show on the basis of traditional habits, thus a variety of programs presented on the stage are gradually formed as it is today.